Astra Zoldnere: Representation of seniors: rewinding stereotypes about older people in German fiction films (2008-2018)

In the research project Astra Zoldnere invites older people (65+) to re-perform stereotypical scenes from current day German-speaking fiction films and to reflect about their experiences thereafter.

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Although the world and particularly the higher-income countries are aging (Harper 2018), we live in a youth-oriented society. In media, the older people are highly underrepresented or mostly depicted in a negative light (Vickers 2007). The research project examines the representation of older people in popular German-speaking fiction films (2009 – 2018) by identifying the most typical scenes with older characters. Afterwards, Astra Zoldnere uses her research material to create a documentary film.

In the participatory documentary “Not My Film” older people (65+) re-perform the most typical scenes identified in the theoretical research and reflect about their experiences thereafter. The typical stereotypes about old age identified in the theoretical analyses are: poor health, lack of mental sharpness, unproductiveness, loneliness, and sexlessness. But do these cinematic images correspond to their own reality as well? The older people interviewed offer multi-layered perspectives on old age. Even though seniors make jokes about their old age and some have serious health problems, they can’t agree with the one-sided depiction of old age. Some of the elderly still have a career, sex life and highly progressive world-views. Others have found a valuable hobby or are engaged in charity.